I just returned from seven sleepless nights at diabetes camp, overseeing the medical management of 49 teenagers in a super active environment. Every year I ask myself if I want to return to the craziness of camp –the 1:00 a.m. blood glucose (BG) checks (which can drag on to 2:30 a.m.), the easy-go-lucky teens, and those hard to reach.
But every year I say yes, and am grateful I made the commitment. What is so special about diabetes camp?
- You learn a ton. What is the newest technology and how well is it working? No matter how many teens I see in the office, it’s nothing like the world of camp. It is no longer an “n” of one, but an “n” of 50! Your own research lab!
- You watch teens helping teens. Four teens took off on their triathlon – agreeing to stay together. One had a low BG and had to stop and the others, without a thought, waited for him to recover so they all could go on.
Will I be back next year? You bet I will!
- Teens become best friends at camp. One male duo was at camp together all through their teen years, and now they are back together as counselors, agreeing that they are the best of friends. It all happened because of camp and the natural bonding between two people managing this frustrating disease.
- You see the light go on as one teen after another learns something new about managing diabetes: a temporary basal rate, how activity impacts blood glucose values, the ease of checking six times per day when you no longer feel alone.
- Perhaps the best part of camp is leaving with the best warm, fuzzy feeling of helping kids with diabetes while enriching your own understanding.
Will I be back next year? You bet I will! There are over 200 diabetes camps worldwide with diabetes educators needed in each setting.
The Pediatric and Camp Educators Community of Interest (COI) at AADE17 will have s’mores and a lot of camping information. It will also be a great place to gather and share camp stories as well as new ideas to enhance the camp experience. Come join us at the LNG/COI Networking Reception at table 1830 on August 3 at AADE17.
About the Author:
Carla Cox is a registered dietitian and certified diabetes educator. She has been a certified diabetes educator for over 25 years, and served as an assistant adjunct professor for 14 years, teaching in areas of sports nutrition and exercise physiology. Currently she works in Missoula, Montana as a diabetes educator in both in- and outpatient settings.